Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC1.6b Mediterranean temporary waterbody

Mediterranean temporary waterbody

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC1.6b
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


These are shallow to very shallow temporary pools, existing only in winter and early spring, and seasonally wet depressions, mostly oligotrophic, in the Mediterranean and warm Atlantic part of Europe, and in Northern Africa.  They are colonised by pioneer ephemeral freshwater vegetation with above-ground growth visible for only a short part of the year,  just 1-3 months. The predominant life forms are annual amphiphytes (Mediterranean spring annuals/therophytes), germinating in the aquatic phase and reproducing in the terrestrial ecophase, such as species of Juncus, Lythrum and Elatine or semi-terrestrial geophytes such as species of Isoetes and Serapias. Ephemeral vegetation types constituted by these plant species occur on water-saturated or submerged acidic sands or calcium rich soils, which completely dry out in spring. In some cases ephemeral vegetation is also developed in the flush habitats on rock outcrops, where seasonal surface runoff creates temporarily wet conditions in the patches of rock debris. The communities are classified in the order Isoetalia, covering the alliances Isoetion, Cicendion, Lythrion tribracteati, Preslion cervinae and Agrostion salmanticae. This habitat is very important for invertebrates (especially branchiopods and dragonflies) and amphibians (newt and frogs, like species of Triturus, Bufo, Rana and Hyla).

Indicators of quality:

• Distinct vegetation zonation related to the water level fluctuations

• Natural hydrological regime of the catchment with no significant hydrological impact by e.g. water extraction as indicated by pipes, dams, removal of soil/gravel and with conditions adequate for the survival and persistence of typical species

• High insolation of the habitat without excessive shading by scrub or forest vegetation

• Relative abundance of Mediterranean annual and geophytic species

• Substrate with no excessive disturbances (e.g. excessive trampling)

• Clear water with no eutrophication

• Absence of evidence(s) of primary or secondary succession (e.g. encroachment of shrubs, tall helophytes) and or floating species (pleuston)

• No garbage and waste dumping

• No impact of pesticides and pollutants

• Not significant presence of nitrophilous or ruderal species or invasive neophytes

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat type is assessed as Vulnerable (VU) because of a strong decline in quality over the last 50 years (criterion C/D1) both at the EU28 and the EU28+ levels. In quantitative trems 54% of the extent of the habitat is negatively affected with a 50% of relative severity. Additionally, there is a strong decline in area (-21%), but not large enough to meet the threshold for Near Threatened.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Cultivation
    • Grazing
    • Intensive grazing
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Pollution to groundwater (point sources and diffuse sources)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Droughts and less precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

Restoration is possible only with the reconstruction of the necessary hydrological and soil conditions.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The main measures for the conservation of this habitat type include maintaining the natural hydrological regime of the catchment avoiding water pollution and eutrophication. It is also very important to maintain sustainable agricultural uses in order to avert the encroachment by shrubs and overgrazing of the habitat. Legal protection of habitats and species, urban and industrial water waste management, and planning of urbanisation and transportation and service corridors are essential in order to preserve this habitat.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime


For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Italy mainland Present 23 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 23 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 23 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 0.2 Stable Stable
Cyprus Present 0.3 Unknown Stable
France mainland Present 55 Stable Decreasing
Corsica Present 55 Stable Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 2 Unknown Stable
Crete Present 2 Unknown Stable
East Aegean Present 2 Unknown Stable
Portugal mainland Present 9.8 Unknown Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 130 Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present 130 Decreasing Decreasing
Malta Uncertain - -
Portugal Azores Present 9.8 Unknown Decreasing
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 3 Unknown Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 5780900 1735 221 Territorial data also show 108km2 for Portugal transfered from C1.6b
EU28+ 1737 224
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100